The Dead Sea is a hypersaline lake in the Jordan Rift Valley bordered by Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. The Dead Sea is 42 miles long and 11 miles wide at its widest point. At 422 meters below sea level, the shores of the Dead Sea are the lowest areas of dry land on Earth. The Dead Sea’s importance extends to biblical times as a refuge for King David, a resort for King Herod, and a rich source for minerals and balms for mummification in Egypt. The modern Dead Sea economy is based on tourism, agriculture, and harvesting minerals.
National Geographic Magazine assigned Nathan Benn to photograph the Dead Sea in 1976. Nathan’s photography began at Ein Gedi, Israel in early February 1976 and concluded on the beach in Suweima, Jordan in late March. Nathan shot 259 rolls of 35mm film during the eight-week production. National Geographic staff writer Harvey Arden wrote the magazine text, and the story and photographs were published in the February 1978 issue of National Geographic Magazine.